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    The Papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr.
                  
                           and of the NAACP Washington Bureau 1942 - 1978

 

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Synopses

Lion in the Lobby
Volumes I&II
Volume III
Volume IV
Volume V


Tables of Contents

Volumes I&II
Volume III
Volume IV
Volume V
 

Documents

Sample Documents I
Sample Documents II
Sample Documents III
Sample Docs III Cont..

Sample Documents IV

Sample Documents V

 
Background

Mitchell A Profile
Project Scope
Mitchell's Reports


 


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(Proposed Program)                                                                                                                                                                  July 25, 1946

NAACP LABOR DEPARTMENT

OBJECTIVES

1. Elimination of: discriminatory employment practices in industry and government which result in refusal to hire colored workers, wage differentials based on race,
unequal opportunities for training and promotion, unfair dismissals, and segregation in employment because of race.[1]

2.  Greater participation of colored persons in the trade union movement.

3.  Ending of segregated locals, auxiliaries and other discriminatory practices in labor unions.

4.  Passage of state and federal FEPC legislation

5.  Inclusion of non-discrimination clauses in state and federal laws pertaining to the employment of persons in the execution of government contracts.

6.  Joining with labor unions for the enactment of legislation favored by labor and for the repealing of unfavorable legislation.

7.  Expanding and improving opportunities for vocational training on the basis of non-segregation.


STRUCTURE

The Secretary of the Labor Department is responsible to the Executive Secretary of the Association. The work of this department shall be coordinated with the activities of the Legal Department and the Branch Department by regular meetings with the Secretary and these department heads.

There shall be formed a labor committee of Board members and such other persons as may be needed to further the objectives of this program. Labor committees shall also be formed in local branches.

 

DUTIES

The National Committee shall work with the Secretary in achieving the objectives of this program. This committee shall also make recommendations to the Board on the labor policy to be followed by the NAACP. This shall include recommendations on the endorsement or rejection of proposed labor legislation.

Local committees shall initiate, within the framework of a specified operating procedure, positive action to achieve the objectives of this program.

Branch labor committees shall also receive and investigate complaints alleging discrimination because of race in hiring, upgrading, wage payments, training, or dismissals from employment.

 

RELATIONSHIPS WITH UNIONS

It shall be the duty of branches to keep informed on the local practices of labor unions. This includes giving assistance in building the membership of these unions organizing on a non-segregated basis.

Some unions such as the United Automobile Workers have extensive machinery against discrimination. Branch labor committees should become familiar with their machinery and urge local union officials to make it work. In other cases locals of international unions with discriminatory policies are working to eliminate such policies. This is true in the case of the International Association of Machinists.[2] Although the union has a prohibition against Negroes in its ritual, many locals have actually included colored persons and in recent conventions of the machinists, the vote to eliminate the color bar has gained new support. The branch committee can speed up this type of progress by informing the National Office of liberal persons in such unions who may be counted on to give support to a plan of ending discriminatory features. Whenever local unions are negotiating contracts with management, the branch committee should seek the inclusion of non-discrimination clauses in such contracts both as to hiring and conditions of employment. Whenever such requests are made, the National Office should be advised in order that it may obtain assistance from the international union on this matter.

It is important that branch labor committees promote a more active participation of Negroes in local unions. This means that committee representatives should meet with local union officials to study ways of increasing those meetings during which important policy questions are being discussed or elections are being held.


LABOR LEGISLATION

The labor committee of the branch shall have the responsibility of reporting to the National Office any proposed city ordinances or state laws which are against the best interest of labor. Also favorable legislation proposed shall be submitted to the National Office in order that the Association may have a uniform policy on such matters throughout the country. Such legislation shall be studied jointly by the labor and legal departments of the National Office. In submitting matters of this kind the recommendations of the branch shall be included. It is important that this phase of the program be given careful attention. Numerous state bills and proposed city Fair Employment Practice are being submitted in various parts of the country. The NAACP should endorse only the strongest and best of such legislative proposals. In addition, various state legislatures undertake the passage of hostile labor laws which should be defeated because of the adverse effect they have on the progress of organized labor with the resultant ill effect on colored persons.

By showing its recognition of the common objectives existing for both colored persons and labor, the NAACP will promote increased harmony between these groups.

 

VOCATIONAL TRAINING

The branch labor committee shall work with the education committee (where the latter exists) in evaluating local tax supported vocational programs. Where such programs fail to offer equal opportunity for colored and white students, the labor committee shall take action to eliminate such inequality. The National Office labor department shall be kept informed on such matters in order that it may give advice and assistance in handling them.


MS: copy, NAACP II: A-662, DLC.

The date of this document, Mitchell’s second draft, is based on that of his cover letter to Walter White, which is 7/25/46. Mitchell explained to White that he had omitted the operating procedure because he was revising them and hoped to have them ready for him in a few days. (See 8/1/46.) He said he was also circulating the proposed program to other staffers to solicit their ideas for strengthening it. Among the persons, he said, he wanted to invite to participate on the planned NAACP National Labor Committee were Eleanor Roosevelt, Fiorello LaGuardia, George L.P. Weaver, Willard Townsend, Boris Shishkin, Palmer Weber, Father Francis J. Gilligan, Harry L. Kingman, Thurgood Marshall, and Charles L. [H.] Houston. He noted that White knew all of them, except Gilligan, who was chairman of the Governor’s Interracial Committee in Minnesota, and Kingman, who had been FEPC West Coast regional director in California. Mitchell letter to White, 7/25/46, NAACP II: A-337, DLC.

For the actual list of members of the NAACP National Labor Committee see, in appendix, Operating Manual, 3/7/47.

Responding in a letter of 8/8/46 to the proposal, which Mitchell had circulated, Robert L. Carter, NAACP assistant special counsel said that he and Marian Wynn Perry, another member of the legal staff with whom he had shared the draft, felt that it was excellent and would fill a gap that badly needed to be bridged in the organization’s program respecting the full cooperation with trade union activity. To strengthen the program, Carter suggested that Mitchell also make aiding the veteran in getting rehabilitated and reintegrated into the economic and social life of the country a major objective. “This means that we must assist the veteran in obtaining his old job under existing laws and in obtaining new job opportunities in all forms of industries,” Carter said. He also suggested that the NAACP’s labor program should be “drilled” into the organization’s youths. “Your program and policy should be made a part of the program and policy of the Youth Department and major effort should be made to indoctrinate members of our Youth Department in the wisdom and necessity of NAACP having an effective workable labor program,” he said. Carter to Mitchell, 8/8/46, NAACP II: A-662, DLC.

[1] See, in appendix, 6/5/41 for origin of the idea for a NAACP labor secretary; and 8/1, 11/30, 12/30/46 for subsequent comments.

[2] See FEPC and Unions headnote and texts related to the IAM in Vols. I and II.

 

December 30, 1946

ANNUAL REPORT OF NAACP LABOR DEPARTMENT

The NAACP's Labor Department was set in July 1946.[i] Its objectives are:

1.      Elimination of discriminatory employment practices in industry and government which result in refusal to hire colored workers, wage differentials based on race, unequal opportunities for training and promotion, unfair dismissals, and segregation in employment because of race.

2.      Greater participation of colored persons in the trade union movement.

3.      Ending of segregated locals, auxiliaries, and any other discriminatory practices in labor unions.

4.      Passage of state and federal FEPC legislation.

5.      Inclusion of non-discrimination clauses in state and federal laws pertaining to the employment of persons in the execution of government contracts.

6.      Joining with labor unions for the enactment of legislation favored by labor and for the repealing of unfavorable labor legislation.

7.      Expanding and improving opportunities for vocational training on a non-segregated basis.

To assist in implementing these plans, we have formed a National Labor Committee[ii] made up of the following persons:

Board Members[iii]

Charles H. Houston

Alfred Baker Lewis

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt

A. Philip Randolph

Palmer Weber

Public Member

Father Francis J. Gilligan

Chairman Governor's (Minnesota)

Interracial Commission

CIO Members                                                                  AFL MEMBERS

Walter P. Reuther                                                                     Boris Shishkin

President of UAW-CIO                                                           Economist, AFL

George L. P. Weaver                                                               Frank Fenton

Director, National CIO Committee                                             Director of

to Abolish Discrimination                                                          Organization, AFL

Willard S. Townsend                                                                Nelson Cruikshank

President, Transport Service                                                     Director of Social

Employees of America                                                              Insurance, AFL

 

Each branch is asked to organize a labor committee, especially in the strategic industrial areas. To assure a uniform approach, we have prepared a manual which has been sent to key branches for criticism and revision. Ultimately, this document will be printed and available for general distribution among the branches. At its first meeting in October, the National Labor Committee agreed upon the following major legislative goals on which there should be joint NAACP and labor union action:

  1. Federal and State FEPC Laws
  2. Federal Civil Rights Legislation
  3. Anti-Lynching Legislation
  4. An Anti-Poll Tax Law
  5. Federal Housing Legislation
  6. Minimum Wage Legislation
  7. Federal Control of Employment Service
  8. Federal Aid to Education

Cooperation with Labor

The July NAACP conference adopted a resolution supporting the organizing drives of the AFL and the CIO in the South.[iv] From time to time we have received reports of cooperation extended to unions by our local branches. For example, the Pulp and Sulphite Workers of the AFL, the Steel Workers of the CIO, and others report cooperation of branches both in organizing and strikes.

The weeks ahead hold many severe tests for labor and minority groups. The NAACP's Labor Department will oppose with vigor any attempts in Congress to saddle on the American working people legislation designed to curb the effectiveness of trade unions.[v] We shall combat also the more insidious propaganda campaigns which are aimed at driving a wedge between various groups of our citizens by making it appear that interests of consumers and working people are different. Since the great majority of consumers are also wage earners, the fight for better wages and greater security is the fight of the majority of the American people.

Employment Problems

Although we now have less than two million unemployed in the country, the meager information at hand seems to indicate that, even at this time, colored persons are disproportionately unemployed. Studies made by the Bureau of Census for the Final Report of the FEPC showed unemployment of colored persons to be approximately two and a half times as great as among whites.[vi] Since these figures were samples only, it is difficult to draw important conclusions from them. However, we do know that in many major cities pre-war patterns of discrimination are again asserting themselves. For example, in Washington the Capital Transit Company which for years defied the government in its efforts to obtain employment for colored workers as operators now boldly advertises for such persons and still refuses to accept colored employees for this type of work.[vii]

In far too many industries, colored persons find opportunities for promotion and still subject to rigid limitations. All of this points to the importance of the FEP legislation and the NAACP will work with other groups for the enactment of this type of law in the new Congress.[viii] In addition, the state branches in California, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Wisconsin should work vigorously for desirable legislation in their states. (The present Wisconsin and Indiana laws are not effective.)  The Labor Department will assist them in this regard.

We are fortunate in having a Director of Branches who is from an important industrial area of the country.[ix] He has given valuable aid in promoting the department's program.

In the following fields, our branches will play an increasingly important role.

Tax Supported Employment Services

When the USES was returned to the states by Congress, the NAACP saw the importance of seeking the establishment of standards which would provide for minority groups protection against discrimination because of race, creed, color, or national origin. The employment service makes approximately 500,000 placements a month throughout the country. For the next two years, although it is under state control, it will be supported by millions of dollars out of the Federal treasury.[x]

In September at the request of the NAACP, a number of national organizations joined in a conference with the Secretary of Labor, Lewis B. Schwellenbach.[xi] At this time, we proposed that the Department of Labor require in its operating standards that no discriminatory orders should be accepted by states, that there should be no segregation in offices, and that all persons should have a full opportunity for employment on the staff of the agency. We also asked that states be required to make positive efforts to obtain the full utilization of minority groups by employers on a non-discriminatory basis.

As a token of good faith, those present at the conference asked Secretary Schwellenbach to agree to the immediate abolition of segregation in the District of Columbia Employment Service which, at that time, had colored applicants stand in separate lines and had separate files for their records. The Secretary agreed that the system of segregation in the District should be abolished and announced, for the first time, that this would take place in a few days. He kept his promise in this regard and did end segregation in the District of Columbia.[xii] For this, he deserves commendation. On the other hand, the Department of Labor completely bowed to the states in that it established a general policy against discrimination, but did not accept the specific recommendations made in the conference of September 11.

The Labor Department of the NAACP then took this matter up with the governors of individual states. New York was the only state which specifically indicated the following:  "No discriminatory job orders will be accepted and . . . job referrals will be made on the basis of the applicants' skills, abilities, and occupational classification." Presumably Massachusetts and New Jersey will also follow this policy since they have FEPCs. Other states vary from friendly interest to vague promises. The friendly interest states include Illinois, West Virginia, Nebraska, South Dakota, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, Arizona, and Ohio. In the group which seemed to be evading the problem we find Indiana, Nevada, Kentucky and Montana. The most hostile reply came from Colorado. The Governor, while expressing sympathy for minority groups and opposition to discrimination, stated, "We would only be restricting the overall effectiveness of our service by refusing to accept orders from or make referrals to employers who indicate a racial preference . . . we do not feel that it is a proper function of the employment service actively to promote the full utilization of minority groups and thereby become identified with those groups in the sense of discriminating in their favor." The diverse attitudes of governors on this problem show that minority groups will have little benefit from the employment service under state operation unless state branches of the NAACP insist that the Service be operated for the good of all persons. In addition, the replies of the governors also show the importance of having a law which will place the employment service under federal control again.

Construction

Because of the importance of employment in the construction industry, we have established a working relationship with the National Housing Agency and have urged branches to push for the full use of skilled colored persons in this field. We have also asked that our branches be alert to the possibility of securing employment for colored veterans who have skills which they acquired in the armed services. The importance of getting candidates into apprenticeship training has also been stressed in our communication to the branches.[xiii]

Communication

Branches in certain key areas have asked to take follow-up action on the Labor Secretary's effort to have the American Telephone and Telegraph Company establish a national policy providing for the full use of minority groups on a non-discriminatory basis. Because the NAACP in many places initiated efforts to obtain employment for colored operators by citing cases of discrimination to the FEPC, the Labor Department's action was a logical follow up.[xiv] Branches have received a statement from the Labor Department giving the policy of the Telephone Company: "The companies in the Bell System are quite generally employing a substantial number of colored people and the types of jobs for which such people qualify are continuing to increase. All of the companies are doing what they can for the employment of colored people in the light of conditions in their territories and are treating the matter on a long term basis in order that whatever is done shall be sound and enduring. We feel sure that this course of action over the years will produce the best results."[xv]

At the time of the writing of this report, we have received one communication from the West Coast indicating that the telephone company in San Francisco has started hiring colored girls as operators. Although this action is definitely the result of forces in the community which were active before the National Office established a Labor Department, it provides the ground work for follow up action in other cities on the Coast and seems to demonstrate that it is possible to change the employment practices of the telephone company in other cities at this time. However, it is very clear that the company still carries on extensive discriminatory practices against colored job-seekers.[xvi]

Government

Employment of colored persons in the Federal Government is steadily declining. It was generally predicted that since colored workers made their greatest gains in war-time agencies, the closing of these agencies would mean rapid reconversion to peace-time discrimination among the old line agencies.[xvii]

It is safe to say that wherever our flag files over a Federal establishment there also do we find job discrimination. From occupied Germany to Japan, the American pattern of discrimination is in full force and effect, if one judges by the nature of complaints received.

* * *                            * * *                            * * *

From Germany we received a letter from a young man who stated in part:

"Although I am classified as a stenographer, I am assigned to a non-stenographic position even though stenographers are still greatly needed here in Berlin. I have been doing stenographic work for the past ten years, both as a civilian and in army life. . . . Another incident of gross discrimination is the housing one as it is impossible here for two groups to live in the same billets. This, in view of the fact that both white and colored employees requested the sharing of the same accommodations."

We took this matter up with the War Department and obtained correction. The complainant's latest letter states:

"I am (now) in the administrative section -- acting chief clerk. This job is very suitable for me and gives me the opportunity to excise my administrative and clerical abilities . . . . I want to express my appreciation for the work the Association has done . . . I sincerely believe the other conditions I mentioned in my letter are improving somewhat."

* * *                            * * *                            * * *

A young couple traveled nearly two thousand miles to take a job on an Indian reservation in Montana. When they arrived they were refused the work on the ground that the Indians were prejudiced against colored people. We obtained correction of this through the Indian Service and the complainants, who indicated they would not be available again for work until January, are to begin duty at that time.

* * *                            * * *                            * * *

Some of the Japanese are being required to follow the American pattern of racial discrimination, if the statements of another complainant are correct. This man charges that colored civilian employees, at an air base in Japan, must sit at a special table and when they enter the dining room the Japanese waiters are not permitted to let them use tables designated for whites. We have been informed by the War Department that this is contrary to Army policy and will be corrected.[xviii]

* * *                            * * *                            * * *

An employee of the Federal Communications Commission complained to us about an attempt to bar her from the cafeteria in the main Post Office Department Building. We took this matter up with the Acting Postmaster General, Mr. J. M. Donaldson. He asserted that it was the policy of the Department to serve all employees without discrimination. The Labor Secretary and a newspaper reporter visited the cafeteria to check on the policy. They were served without trouble. Every other colored person went to a small cafeteria beside the main eating place. We have sent a report on this matter to the National Alliance of Postal Employees and will join with them for any necessary future action.

* * *                            * * *                            * * *

Currently we are investigating charges of wholesale discrimination by the Social Security Administration and the War Department in recruiting former employees of the Office of Dependency Benefits at Newark, New Jersey. Statements from Secretary Patterson, War Department, and Commissioner Arthur Altmeyer, Social Security Administration, deny the charges. The Social Security Administration is vulnerable because its policy does not prohibit discrimination because of race. It provides that: "Disqualification of any person from taking an examination for appointment, from promotion, or from holding a position because of political or religious opinions or affiliations will be prohibited." We expect to have further follow-up on these matters.

* * *                            * * *                            * * *

The State Department, which has a reputation in Washington of being the source of some of the worst discrimination against colored workers, is presently assembling information to offset foreign propaganda about racial discrimination in America. There is nothing to indicate, however, that this activity will make more liberal employment policies in the State Department or any other old line Federal agency.

A conference with the President on this problem is most essential. The White House must issue and provide for the policing of a stern order against discrimination because of race.

Textiles

Within the next six months it is expected that 30,000 new workers will be recruited for work in the Textile Industry. A large part of this industry is in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. We are alerting our branches in these areas to the importance of working for greater inclusion of colored persons. This will be an extremely difficult job in view of the gross discrimination against colored workers in the southern plants. However, it is a real challenge to those branches which are determined to gain greater work opportunities in their communities.[xix]

 

Transportation

The railroads of the nation have done much to create and perpetuate patterns of job discrimination against colored employees. To hold those jobs now open and break the barriers which prevent promotion, those who believe in fair play must work through unions and in the courts.[xx] In addition, it appears that the Supreme Court decision in the Morgan Case has pointed up the need to safeguard the colored railway employees in the South who will not be used as pawns to deny colored passengers their civil rights.[xxi]

Currently we have before us the case of a train porter on the Illinois Central who was assaulted by a white conductor because of a disagreement which arose when the former did not insist that colored passengers accept segregated seating arrangements. The victim was beaten with a black jack in Memphis while a guard stood by " with his hand on his gun as if to shoot."

Later this porter was dismissed by the company for "promoting social equality."

A second porter was shot in Mississippi while fleeing from a conductor. This man states that the issue of segregation did not arise in his case, but the argument did begin because he did not force colored passengers into a certain coach. The car they entered was also occupied by colored persons, according to his statement. An agent of the company offered him money after the shooting, according to the information before us, but he refused to accept it.

At the time of the writing of this report these cases before the Department of Justice, but it does not seem that action will be taken on them. These forms of persecution show the great need for a strong civil rights law and ample machinery for rapidly bringing


 


MS: copy, MP.

[i] Mitchell was appointed director of the newly created NAACP labor department, working out of the NAACP Washington Bureau, effective in July 1946. The Baltimore Afro-American, 6/22/46; Crisis (August, 1946, 251; Watson, Lion in the Lobby, 145-47.

[ii] See 8/31 and 9/30/46 for members whom Mitchell previously named.

[iii] These committee members are on the NAACP National Board of Directors.

[iv] The Pulp, Sulphite and Paper Mill Workers, which was organizing in North Carollina, was an example of unions organizing in the South. Mitchell’s letter to Frank Fention, director of organization, AFL, 11/25/46, NAACP WB-183, DLC.

[v] Mitchell was referring to what would become the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, otherwise known as the Taft-Hartley Act, which repealed much of the National Labor Relations (Wagner) Act of 1935 in reaction to the widespread labor unrest caused by the end of price controls and other government regulations over the economy in the post-war period. NYT 10/20/44, E4, 1. The Taft-Hartley Act nullified parts of the Federal Anti-Injunction (Norris-Laguardia) Act of 1932 and established new control of labor disputes by enlarging the National Labor Relations Board and providing that the union or employer must, before terminating a collective bargaining agreement, notify the other party and a government mediation service. http://print.infoplease.com/ce6/bus/A0847620.html

In his testimony opposing S. 55, S. 360, S. 105, S. 133, and other related measures, Mitchell charged that the bills nullifying the National Labor Relations Act represented:

a throw-back to a period of industrial strife which would gravely affect the welfare of all of our people. These bills are an invitation for management to renew espionage systems and physical attacks upon both the organized employees and those seeking to form labor organizations. They put labor on notice that the power of the Government of the United States will be used to crush the wage earners seeking to safeguard their rights and deprive them of their civil liberties. In short, the combination of these bills would snatch away the protection of the Clayton Act, the Norris-LaGuardia Act, and the Wagner Act.  . . .

If it is the purpose of the framers of this legislation to promote harmony between labor and management, they should take into consideration the fact that the majority of strikes of 1,000 or more persons which have occurred in this country since VJ-day came because wage earners, faced with a cost of living which has risen better than 50 percent since 1939, were seeking to obtain additional money with which to buy the necessities of life, to pay their rents, and to establish some small measure of economic security for their families. [Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, 2/20/47, Hearings, 1255, 1258.]

The bills were sponsored by Republican Senators Joseph H. Ball of Minnesota, Robert A. Taft of Ohio, and H. Alexander Smith of New Jersey. People’s Voice, 3/1/47.  See also Mitchell, “The Negro and The Taft-Hartley Act” in the appendix.

[vi] See the discussions of employment challenges posed by the reconversion period in FEPC Final Report, 41-48; the Reprint from Lawyers Guild Review, Volume V, No. 2 (Mar.-Apr. 1945), “Legislation Outlawing Racial Discrimination in Employment,” Reprinted  by N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. This monograph is a comprehensive review, with detailed footnotes, of existing legislation on the subject.

[vii] See the headnote on Street and Local Railways in Vol. I and Epilogue, 7/46, in Vol. II.

[viii] Reinforcing the FEPC’s intrinsic support for a permanent existence, the agency at its close said: “Nothing short of congressional action to end employment discrimination can prevent the freezing of American workers into fixed groups, with ability and hard work of no account to those of the ‘wrong’ race or religion.” Final Report, viii. The latest battle for a permanent FEPC was waged unsuccessfully in 2/46, when a minority of senators, using the filibuster, defeated efforts for the immediate consideration of S. 101. Telegram from A. Philip Randolph and Alan Knight Chalmers, co-chairmen of the National Council for a Permanent FEPC (NCPF), in NAACP II A266, DLC. Unlike during his tenure at the FEPC, Mitchell was now working closely with the NCPF, which involved some 75 pro-civil rights organizations. See extensive collection of materials in NAACP II A266, DLC. See also Maslow, “FEPC—A Case History in Parliamentary Maneuver”; Maslow and Robinson, “Civil Rights Legislation and the Fight for Equality,” 1862-1952.

[ix] Mitchell was referring to Gloster B. Current, executive secretary of the Detroit NAACP Branch, who also, in 1946, was appointed national director of branches. Crisis (September 1946), 279.

[x] See also, among others, 11/30/46, 5/2/47.

[xi] For the meeting with Schwellenbach that Mitchell arranged, see 9/30/46. At another meeting on 12/11/46 on FEPC legislation, Mitchell again brought up the problems with the employment services, specifically a proposed NAACP lawsuit against the agency, which the secretary favored. Mitchell memorandum 12/11/46, marked “confidential,” with no designated recipient, but most certainly to Walter White. MP. See also Watson, Lion in the Lobby, 156.

[xii] See 8/31/46, and 9/30/46.

 

[xiii] See 7/31, and 10/31/46.

[xiv] See headnote on Telephone Companies in Volume I.

[xv] This quote was not found.

[xvi] That struggle was led by the war-time FEPC on the West Coast under the direction of Harry L. Kingman, director, Region XII. See headnote on The Telephone Industry in Vol. 1.

[xvii] See 1/25/47 for a comprehensive review of this problem.

[xviii] This report was based on complaints from Henry Conyers, civilian instructor for the Army Air Force at Johnson Air Base. See 7/3/47.

[xix] See Mitchell’s continuing efforts in this area at 2/1, 6/2, 7/3, 9/312/1/47, 3/1/48.

 

[xx] See the introduction to Volumes I and II for extended background on the importance of the struggle against discrimination by the railroads.

[xxi] Morgan v. Virginia, 328 U.S. 373 (1946).

 

 

February 1, 1947

 

MONTHLY RPORT OF THE LABOR DEPARTMENT

 

The Labor Committee held its quarterly meeting on January 14 in New York. A number of important matters discussed in the meeting have bearing on items in this report and they are mentioned in the appropriate places.

 

EMPLOYMENT

 

At the request of the Atlantic City Branch, the Labor Secretary held a conference on January 23 with the Atlantic City Transportation Company. The company indicates that under its policies colored operators will be hired.[1] However, because of the seasonal nature of employment in Atlantic City, it will be difficult to test this until the peak hiring period of the company is reached. This will be in May or June, and an additional meeting is planned at that time. The branch is also working on a plan to secure employment opportunities for sales clerks in the 5 and 10c stores which are currently advertising for help.

 

Additional replies have been received from branches on action in the telephone industry. The following branches indicate that operators are now employed: Ventura, San Francisco and Los Angeles, California; Long Branch and Atlantic City, New Jersey and Reno-Sparks, Nevada. Los Angeles and San Francisco indicate that employment of operators was the result of action by a number of community agencies, including the NAACP. San Jose, California reports that it is still at work on employment of persons in this capacity and the Reno-Sparks, Nevada Branch has obtained an agreement for the employment of operators. The branch reports that in the district covered by the company, colored operators are being used, but an effort is being made to get them in Reno at this time. Replies from Philadelphia and Blair County Branches state that the telephone company contends it does not discriminate, but it has not yet put women on the job. The Philadelphia Branch stated that an unconfirmed report indicated that a survey was made of operators by the company and they expressed the willingness to work with colored girls but on a segregated basis. Such a plan, of course, will be absolutely unacceptable and unnecessary. The Labor Committee discussed this problem at its meeting and agreed that a subcommittee would visit top officials of the AT & T in an attempt to obtain a positive, clear cut statement of no discrimination. This meeting will be arranged when we have a more complete picture from other branches which have not yet communicated with the National Office.[2]

 

In November, the Labor Department requested the National Housing Agency to investigate discrimination against construction workers in Baltimore. At that time we stated, "The Baltimore branch of the NAACP (indicates) that minority workers are receiving no placements in the construction industry through the Maryland Employment Service. The branch also states that approximately 78 firms in the construction industry are accepting apprentices, all of those accepted are white." On January 23, the National Housing Agency arranged a meeting in Baltimore between community agencies and government representatives. In addition, the National Housing Agency had follow-up conferences with contractors. Baltimore is to be used as a test area by the Housing Agency in attempting to obtain full use of the supply of colored, skilled construction workers.[3]

 

Branches in Raleigh, Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston, Spartanburg, Macon, Atlanta, Columbus, and Danville have received the following suggested plan of action on employment in the textile industry: "Since a great part of the textile industry is in your state, it would be a good idea to urge your local state employment service to work for the placement of colored persons in this industry on a non-discriminatory basis. If you do not have any success with the employment service, a visit to some of the leading firms by members of your Labor Committee would be advisable. If these plants are part of national companies, we shall be happy to take follow-up action with their central offices if you request it." This problem was discussed in the Labor Committee Meeting and it was agreed an effort would be made to concentrate on areas of relatively lower resistance first in any move to accomplish the integration of colored persons in the industry. It was also agreed that we would solicit assistance in selection of the areas from the Textile Workers of the CIO.[4]

 

Through the efforts of the NAACP and the United Public Workers, discriminatory tactics which would have barred colored employees from the Federal Trade Commission were stopped.[5] These employees were transferred from the Office of Price Administration by an executive order to the Federal Trade Commission. Some of the supervisors in the FTC advised OPA that colored and Jewish employees were not desired. The union began work on the matter immediately and the NAACP also took it up with the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. After a conference with the union, the NAACP arranged a meeting with the Chairman of the Commission. In addition to union officials, some of the employees discriminated against were also present at this conference. Prior to the meeting, the Chairman of the Commission informed the NAACP that ten colored persons would be hired. After the conference, eleven additional persons were offered employment. However, four of these declined to accept it. The others went on the job.[6]

 

The Labor Secretary also joined the Public Workers as a representative of a veteran who had been dismissed from employment as a dishwasher in the Veterans Administration Facility, Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The union alleged that there was general discrimination in the Veterans Administration Facility and its charges seem supported by evidence produced before the regional office of the Civil Service in St. Louis which had recommended reinstatement of the employee. At the hearing before the Civil Service Commission, the Labor Secretary made the following statement for the record: "The Veterans Administration was surprisingly vigorous in pressing charges against this man and apparently much less eager to take positive action to remedy discrimination in its St. Louis Facility. Although the Veterans Administration was represented by an official from St. Louis and three other Washington officers at the Civil Service hearing, it could shed no light on the grades of colored employees, but did contend that a great many were employed. Questioning by the NAACP revealed, however, that these persons were all in low grade jobs.[7]

 

The general question of discrimination in the federal government was discussed at the Labor Committee Meeting and it was agreed that an effort would be made to get this problem before the President's Committee on Civil Rights.[8]

 

LEGISLATION

 

The Labor Secretary represented Mr. Walter White at a Policy Committee Meeting of the National Council for a Permanent FEPC.[9] The Committee visited Senator Morse who agreed to introduce the revised FEPC Bill on Friday, January 24. Unfortunately, additional Republican sponsors could not be obtained in time for the introduction of the bill on that date.[10] The state FEPC legislation was discussed at the Labor Committee Meeting and it was agreed that branches should concentrate on state FEPC in those areas where there is a maximum chance for success. The Labor Secretary was designated to talk with other organizations on which states would be desirable. Since the meeting, I have talked with the AFL and the National Catholic Welfare Conference. It appears that the states in which there is the best possibility are the following: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, California, and Washington. The AFL has prepared a model bill which is being sent to its state federations. Its Washington federation was especially anxious to push this legislation. The CIO also has a model bill which was prepared last year. Word has come from West Virginia that the NAACP is making a vigorous effort to have FEP Legislation considered there. The Labor Secretary requested Senator Taft to provide an opportunity for the Association to be heard on the numerous anti-labor bills now under consideration by the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare.[11]

 

COMMUNICATIONS TO STATE OFFICIALS

 

The Labor Department requested the FEPC in New Jersey and Massachusetts to seek the elimination of racial discriminatory practices among labor unions in their states. We cited the action of the New York State Commission Against Discrimination which recently announced progress made with unions in New York. While it is never possible to know whether a commitment means anything until it is actually tried out, such action should have important educational value.[12]

 

The new Governor of Maryland indicates that NAACP's request for the adoption of employment service standards against discrimination is under consideration. A similar letter from the new Governor of New Jersey indicates that no discriminatory orders will be accepted by the employment service in that state.[13]

 

OTHER ACTIVITY

 

The Labor Secretary was called on to extend greetings at one of the sessions of the National Farm Labor Union's Convention in Washington this month.


 


MS: copy, NAACP II: A-341, DLC.

[1] See headnote on Street and Local Railways in Vol. I.

[2] Battling employment discrimination in the telephone industry was an important part of the FEPC’s war-time mission. In addition to Mitchell’s reports and memoranda in Vols. I and II, see the headnote on the Telephone Industry and related reports in the appendix there.

[3] See headnote on Segregation in Federal Housing Programs.

 

[4] See 12/30/46, 6/2, 7/3, 9/3, 12/1/47, and 3/1/48 for continuing activities in this area.

 

[5] See 3/1/47.

[6] Mitchell met with Garland S. Ferguson, chairman of the FTC, on 2/20/47 to discuss the charge by UPW that there had been racial discrimination by the FTC against African American and Jewish OPA employees. In a memorandum to Walter White, he explained that FEPC records showed that this agency employed only 13 persons and all of these were in CPC (Craft, Protective, and Custodial) classifications.” Earlier, Mitchell had expressed to Arthur S. Flemming, commissioner, CSC, the NAACP’s deep concern about discrimination against black government employees, who, upon being laid off by war agencies, were refused employment in other government establishments solely because of their race.” Mitchell’s letter to Fleming, 1/21/47, and memorandum to Walter White, 2/5/47, both in NAACP IX: 32, DLC.

[7] Despite Mitchell’s involvement here, veterans affairs matters were normally handled by Jesse Dedmond, secretary of Veterans Affairs. His reports were included in Reports of the Secretary to the Board. For a history of the Veterans Administration, anf for a Chronology of Veterans’ Legislation, see Congress and the Nation, 1338- 41.

[8] The President’s Committee on Civil Rights was appointed by Truman on 12/5/46. To Secure These Rights, vii. See 11/1/47.

[9] Attached to Mitchell’s report of 2/17/47 to White was also a comparison of the new FEPC bill with earlier ones. NAACP II: A-257, DLC.

[10] In a letter of 2/5/47 to Walter White, Mitchell explained that there had been a hitch regarding the “mechanics” of getting the bill introduced. At a meeting of representatives of the National Council for a Permanent FEPC on 1/20, Mitchell explained, Morse said that if the committee got the sponsors for the bill, the committee’s representatives could notify him and he would call the sponsors about attaching their names to the bill. Subsequently, Mitchell said he was informed that Morse said he did not want to call the bill’s sponsors together. Consequently, it would be necessary for the council to find another senator to call the meeting of the sponsors.

Mitchell called White’s attention to his memorandum of 2/4 in which he provided a detailed report on “Meetings with Senator Taft and Others on FEPC Legislation” on 2/4. The council’s delegation sought Taft’s support and advice regarding the introduction of the council’s fair employment practices bill. Mitchell reported that while Taft said “he was very much interested in the FEPC idea,” he “could not under any circumstances endorse or sponsor the bill proposed by the Council.” Nevertheless, according to the council’s minutes of its meeting on 2/6, Taft said he would: appoint a subcommittee of the Senate Labor Committee to hold public hearings on the bill, neither would he introduce a bill himself, and he would discourage any other bill from being introduced in the Senate. Taft added that he would not regard any other Republican who was sponsoring the bill as violating the party platform or loyalties, so “it was okay for the Council to approach any Senator for sponsorship of the bill.”

Roy Wilkins, assistant executive secretary of the NAACP who was also very much involved in the struggle for a permanent FEPC, in a memorandum to White on 2/3 had urged White to have Mitchell represent him at the meeting with Taft because he “would be a good man to sit in since, unlike some other persons on our staff, he is not ‘soft’ on Taft.” That jab was clearly at Leslie Perry, administrative assistant in the NAACP Washington Bureau, who was also participating in the lobbying for a permanent FEPC. Mitchell’s letter and memorandum to White, Wilkins’ memorandum, and two sets of the minutes of the Council’s meeting on 2/6 are among a large file on this struggle in NAACP II: A-266, DLC.

[11] On the anti-labor bills, see 3/1, 6/2/47.

 

[12] Hailed as a milestone in civil rights legislation, the revolutionary New York State Law Against Discrimination in Employment became effective on 1/7/45. It was sponsored by Rep. Irvin M. Ives and Sen. Elmer F. Quinn and was the first law in the country to outlaw discrimination based on race, creed, color or national origin. It had an administrative machinery, the New York State Commission Against Discrimination, with power to compel business, industry, employment agencies, and labor unions to end discriminatory employment practices in hiring, firing, promotion, working conditions, and on application forms or face punishment. Draft Report of the Committee to Support the Ives-Quinn Law to our Three Sponsoring Agencies, attached to letter by Anne Mather, director, to Marian Perry, 1/6/49, NAACP II: A-194, DLC; NYT, 7/1/45, 10E.

During its first eight months of operation, the commission won a large degree of cooperation in enforcing the law. Turner, “Tolerance on Trial,” 14-15.

[13] See, among others, 8/31, 11/30/46.

 

 

REPORT OF NAACP LABOR DEPARTMENT

AT THE 38TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

 

June 26, 1947

 

 

The NAACP’s Labor Department was established one year ago. Important national leaders are members of its advisory committee. In quarterly meetings, this committee has been charting broad strategy on labor legislation, employment problems, and matters on which there can be mutual NAACP and labor cooperation.[i] A basic Manual of Operations is now available for the guidance of branch labor committees. For the record it should be stated that branch labor committees are established by the Constitution.

 

Discrimination in Government

 

The pattern of racial discrimination in the Federal Government is appalling. Some of the cases we have handled during the last twelve months are as follows:

 

Approximately twenty colored workers, who had been transferred to the Federal Trade Commission from the Office of Price Administration in January, 1947, were refused employment solely because of their race. At a conference arranged by the NAACP Labor Department with the Federal Trade Commission and the United Public Workers, Mr. Garland S. Ferguson, FTC Chairman, agreed that this discriminatory policy would cease.[ii]

 

After our intervention, during the month of May, the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Weather Bureau agreed to hire as a meterological aide an applicant who had been denied employment in one of the installations. The Bureau had previously expressed the fear that pilots would object to receiving weather information from a colored man.[iii]

 

In the general wave of discriminatory practices in Washington, sixty colored taxicab drivers who daily reported to the Pentagon faced the loss of this source of income because the Public Buildings Administration had decided to oust them and give the hacking privilege to a single company. The NAACP’s action in their behalf resulted in the Public Buildings Administration’s withdrawal of its plan. These drivers are continuing their service.[iv]

 

The NAACP Labor Department is presently working on the problem of seventeen colored applicants, including disabled veterans, who have been denied employment in the New Orleans Post Office. One applicant, a former Marine, has an average of 100.2, while the others are in the high 80 and 90 brackets.[v]

 

We called to the attention of the War Department the complaint of a colored advanced electricity instructor for the Army Air Forces in Japan. This resulted in an investigation which corrected practices of segregation in the dining hall where he was stationed in Japan. In retaliation, however, the Command at the field refused to renew his contract and shipped him home. We are seeking his reinstatement.[vi]

 

Because discrimination in government employment is so widespread, any attack upon it must be made with the full approval of the President. Therefore, we have asked that there be established by executive order a temporary fair employment practice commission in government. This body would function until the Congress establishes a permanent fair employment practice commission. It is important that something be done in this interim period because agencies have new powers in the hiring of applicants and currently employment is shifting from wartime temporary arrangements to the regular permanent Civil Service System.[vii]

 

Anti-Labor Legislation

 

We have been among the leaders of national organizations fighting against anti-labor legislation in this session of Congress.[viii] We opposed these bills in our testimony before the Senate Labor Committee and furnished each member of the House and Senate Labor Committees with copies of the NAACP’s regional conference resolutions against such bills. We urged President Truman to veto the Taft-Hartley Bill. This legislation makes possible suits in the Federal Court against labor unions, undermines union security and seriously interferes with the internal regulations of labor organizations. In short it wipes out most of the gains of labor under the Wagner Act.[ix] The branches have also urged their Representatives in Congress to support the President’s veto.

 

Private Employment

 

Building Trades- We have been pushing for the inclusion of colored workers in the construction industry and apprenticeship training. This program will be measurably weakened by the so-called economy drive in Congress which at this writing has wiped out the racial relations advisors in the National Housing Administration.[x] These men are an important link in the NAACP’s effort to obtain full use of all skilled colored building tradesmen.

 

Telephone Operators- Many of the complaints against telephone companies filed with the President’s Committee on Fair Employment Practice were submitted by branches of our organization.[xi] It was logical that a major objective of the Association’s labor program would be a continuation of this effort. Six operators are now employed in the telephone exchange at Trenton, New Jersey because of a change in hiring policy brought about by the local NAACP labor committee. In spite of such instances, there are still far too many cities in which advertisement for operators means white only. The fact that experience is meaningless was demonstrated recently when a trained operator formerly employed in Atlantic City came to Washington but was denied employment because of her race. Although the telephone companies have hired operators in such states as New York, Massachusetts, New York, Michigan and California they have resisted our efforts in border areas and the South.[xii]

 

Trade Unions

 

The NAACP has offered advice and assistance to the representatives of two labor organizations whose members are seeking ways to eliminate segregated locals and other Jim Crow practices.[xiii] We are glad to report also that the AFL this year distributed model state fair employment practice bills to a number of areas. It is well known of course that the CIO also has a model bill of this kind. This will unquestionably help the movement for a national fair employment practice law.

 

When the New York State Commission Against Discrimination announced that a number of unions, which are commonly thought of as following discriminatory practices against colored persons, had been approached and agreed to cease such practices, we urged the New Jersey and Massachusetts Commissions to follow the New York example. It is recognized that there is a long step between promise and practice but it is important that the promise be given.[xiv]

 

United States Employment Service

 

Private agencies can never hope to reach the masses of workers who should be given assistance in finding jobs. This is the duty of the United States Employment Service and the state offices which are supported by federal funds. For this reason, the NAACP has been working for a number of years to correct discriminatory practices of the employment service offices.[xv]

 

On September 11, Secretary Schwellenbach of the Department of Labor met with organizations and labor groups who at the NAACP’s request had joined us in asking for the conference.[xvi] We proposed that in the transfer of the employment service offices back to the states the Department of Labor establish certain standards including provisions against the acceptance of discriminatory orders or the establishment of segregated offices. The Secretary, at this conference, announced for the first time that the Department of Labor would abandon practices of segregation at the United States Employment Service office in the District of Columbia. He declined to set up similar standards for the states. We then took the matter to the governors of the states and obtained some commitments. However, only in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York was it agreed that discriminatory orders would not be accepted.

 

When the Department of Labor’s appropriation was severely cut by Congress, we appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee to ask for a restoration of this cut and citied the discriminatory practices of the state offices as an example of the need for broader federal control than now exists. We also asked that a provision prohibiting the use of funds in the states for operating segregated offices or accepting discriminatory orders be incorporated in the legislation.[xvii]

 

Agriculture

The National Labor Committee of the NAACP is exploring the problems of farm workers who will be displaced by the increasing mechanization of agriculture. We are also working with the Farm Labor Union of the A.F of L. and other organizations in behalf of migratory agricultural workers. We have joined in the opposition to H.R. 3367, which is a bill primarily for the benefit of the large farmers, although it purports to be for the “effective use of agricultural workers.”  This bill would remove the farm placement service from the national employment system and thereby increase the exploitation of farm laborers by those employers who always try to keep wages low by having on hand more workers than are necessary.[xviii] It makes possible the purchase of certain existing housing facilities by large land owners, but does not make provision for such purchases by cooperative groups of employers or local communities. It makes possible the continued importation of foreign agricultural workers even though the native supply may be under utilized.[xix]

Branch Action

 

Labor Committees in the local branches are becoming increasingly active. Los Angeles is in a dual drive to save jobs of girls employed by the Owl Drug chain and to open new opportunities in other fields. This committee has announced its intention to get 500 new NAACP members from the ranks of the AFL and CIO.

St. Louis has recently completed an investigation of charges of employment discrimination involving a government hospital.

Dallas is engaged in an employment survey of the community.

The Baltimore Branch spearheaded a drive which netted approximately $3,000 for the relief of colored strikers in retail stores.

Many southern branches have implemented with their active support the 1946 Cincinnati Conference pledge to aid the AFL and CIO organizing drives in the South.

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Clarence Mitchell

Labor Secretary


 


MS: NAACP II: A-33, DLC.

 

[i] See in same location the “Labor and Employment” section of the Report of the Resolutions Committee, 38th Annual Conference of the NAACP, held in Washington, D.C., 6/28/47, for a concise presentation of Mitchell’s program, which the delegates adopted as Association policy.

[ii] See also 2/1, 3/1, 10/31, 11/1/47.

[iii] See also 6/2/47.

[iv] See also 5/2, 12/2/47.

[v] See, among others, 6/2/47, “Summary of Complaints against New Orleans Post Office,” 3/3/44, and “Statement to the Civil Service Commission,” 3/24/47, both in appendix.

[vi] This complaint involved Henry Conyers, who Mitchell said was “exhibit A of discrimination in the War Department.” He was formerly employed at the Sacramento Air Service Command in California and was dismissed from his job there because his superiors refused to give him work for which he was assigned. Mitchell’s memorandum to Roy Wilkins, “Complaint of Henry Conyers Against the Army Air Forces,” 6/19/47, MP.

[vii] See 8/31/48, when Mitchell reports on Truman’s finally issuing EO 9980; Watson, Lion in the Lobby, 159.

[viii] See 6/2/47, where background on this struggle is provided in the note.

[ix] See 2/30/47, Hearings, 1254-1373.

[x] See also 9/3, 10/31/47.

[xi] See headnote on Telephone Companies and related reports in Vol. I and also in volume II.

[xii] See 3/1/47.

[xiii] See headnote on the FEPC and Unions in Vol. I for the immediate foundations of Mitchell’s continuing efforts to build better relations with unions; and Watson, Lion in the Lobby, 172.

[xiv] See Nogren, Toward Fair Employment, 94-96, 139, 141-43; Ross, Employment, Race, and Poverty, 548, 549.

[xv] See, among others, 8/31/46.

[xvi] See also Watson, Lion in the Lobby, 153.

[xvii] See 4/3/47; and 4/17/47, Hearings, 892-97.

[xviii] See, among others, 2/5/48; and Congress and the Nation, 758-59.

[xix] In his testimony on the Fair Labor Standards Act Amendments of 1949, Mitchell explained that the reason for the NAACP’s continued concern about the plight of agricultural workers was that:

Colored wage earners on farms constitute one-tenth of the total working force of the colored population in the United States. This group of wage earners in agriculture does not include the colored persons who are farmers, farm managers, and unpaid family workers on farms. The majority of them are in the southern states and they are a large part of the migratory labor force in agriculture. Another 150,000 colored persons work in seasonal industries which are excluded from the forty hour week protection of the present law and will continue to the excluded under S. 653 [the bill that was then under consideration]. 4/12/49, Hearings, 225.

 

 

August 31, 1948

 

Monthly Report of Labor Secretary

 

The Executive Order Against Discrimination in Government Employment

 

After nearly two years of work by the NAACP, President Truman has issued an executive order against discrimination in Federal employment. A chronological statement on the Association's efforts to obtain this order has been prepared and sent to members of the Board and Presidents of Branches.[1]

 

There were many people who cooperated with the Association on this matter. However, the success of the project was due to the consistent effort and continued interest of Mr. White who spent a great deal of time rallying support among Washington officials.

 

Non-Discrimination Clauses in Government Contracts

 

One of the objectives of the NAACP Labor Department is inclusion of non-discrimination clauses in government contracts. Following an inquiry from South Carolina, the Labor Department obtained from the Veterans Administration a commitment that contracts in that state for the construction of hospital facilities would carry a clause forbidding discrimination. This commitment also covers all contracts of the Veterans Administration.[2]

 

In addition to taking steps to correct discriminatory practices affecting colored carpenters in Tennessee, at the request of the Labor Department, the Atomic Energy Commission has also given a commitment that all of its contracts will contain non-discrimination clauses. The Commission has important contracts with such major firms as the Carbide and Carbon Company, the Dupont Company, and the General Electric Company.[3]

 

The effectiveness of these clauses will depend on how alert NAACP branches are throughout the country in seeing to it that reports of discriminatory practices are promptly investigated locally and sent to the Labor Secretary for follow up if there is no adjustment. If properly checked by the Association, these clauses will be of tremendous importance in promoting fair employment standards in private industry.

 

Assault on Farm Labor Agent

 

Following complaints from Missouri involving a man who was forcibly restrained from recruiting colored farm workers, the NAACP urged intervention of the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor. A full report was submitted by the U. S. Department of Labor and we have asked residents in Missouri to supply additional information on this matter.[4]

 

We have informed the Department of Labor that such incidents show that labor shortages in farming are artificially created, and, therefore, the importation of foreign workers is frequently a device to keep pools of unused farm employees in certain areas, even though there is no work for them or where such work, as may be available, is at a low wage.[5]

 

Branch Requests for Assistance

 

The Labor Department is cooperating with the Cincinnati Branch in its effort to obtain employment for colored girls as telephone operators and the St. Louis Branch in its campaign to secure jobs for persons on public utilities.[6]

 

At the request of persons in Topeka, Kansas, we have asked the Rubber Workers of the CIO to aid in checking on charges that the Goodyear Plant in that city is dismissing colored employees and replacing them with whites.[7]

 

State Fair Employment Action

 

Following numerous complaints from Pennsylvania that New England and New York employers are recruiting workers on a discriminatory basis, we have requested the President of the New England Regional Conference and the President of the New York State Conference of Branches to urge fair employment practice officials in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York to warn employers against seeking to evade the fair employment practice law by out-of-state recruitment on a discriminatory basis.[8]

 

Discriminatory Notices in Post Offices

 

Beginning in New Orleans and including Washington as well as other cities, notices appeared on bulletin boards in post offices stating that persons could enlist in an army postal reserve which was for whites only.[9]

 

We have protested to the Post Office Department and the Department of the Army on these notices and we have received information from Washington and New Orleans that they have been taken down. The mere removal of the notices does not, however, solve the problem. Actually, this is part of a much broader program of the Army which has many serious implications. Under the present defense plans, reserve units are being created in many industrial areas. For example, there is a reserve unit for telephone workers.

 

If the Army recruits persons for these units on a racial basis, it will mean that on the one hand the national government is advocating fair employment in industry while on the other hand the Army is promoting unfair practices by establishing patterns of segregation among the workers. We are assembling additional information on this for further action.[10]

 

Death of Frank Fenton

 

During the summer, Mr. Frank Fenton, former Director of Organization for the AFL, and a member of the NAACP National Labor Committee, died in his office from a heart attack. Mr. Fenton was a conscientious member of the Labor Committee and attended meetings whenever his schedule permitted. He had recently been named International Labor Representative of he AFL, and, although his program required frequent trips outside of the country, he maintained his interest in the Labor Committee. We have expended sympathy to Mrs. Fenton on the loss of her husband.

 

Meetings Attended

 

As alternate for the Secretary, the Labor Secretary attended the meeting of the President's Committee to Employ the Physically Handicapped on August 17. A number of distinguished persons were present including President Truman and Secretary Marshall.

 

During the summer, the Labor Secretary spoke at a meeting for students at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. and also, at William Jewell College in Missouri. The college is an institution which recently barred a colored minister. According to a member of the faculty, the president favored the admission of colored persons but was out-voted by members of the faculty. Letters of protest against the undemocratic action of the institution greatly out-numbered those favoring it, according to an official of the school who talked with the Labor Secretary.


 


MS: NAACP IX: 200, DLC.

 

[1] Truman issued two executive orders on July 26, 1948. The first, E.O. 9980, barred discrimination in federal employment and created a seven-member Fair Employment Board to be formed from members and employees of the Civil Service Commission to review discrimination complaints by government employees; the second, E.O. 9981, created another seven-member President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services. NYT, 7/27/48, 1, 4.  Morris, Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965, 312.

Leading the struggle for E.O. 9981 were A. Philip Randolph, national treasurer of the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training and president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and Grant Reynolds, chairman of the Committee against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training. Randolph, 4/28/48, Hearings, 685-94. See memorandum of 8/20/48 from Dr. Louis T. Wright, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, in appendix, and 12/20/48 report. In 2/5/48, Mitchell’s efforts to prevent the placing of the Fair Employment Board in the CSC is explained in the note.

Although Mitchell was not involved in the struggle to get Truman to issue E.O. 9981, he accorded that development with equal importance because subsequently he was deeply involved in getting the order enforced; in addition to his later reports, see Mitchell, “The Status of Racial Integration in the Armed Services,” 204; Watson, Lion in the Lobby, 159-61; Morris, Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965, 311-14.

[2] See also 5/28/48.

[3] Mitchell asked Gloster Current to relay the information to NAACP branches that the AEC had given assurances that it was inserting in all contracts with private employers and anti-discrimination clause as required by E.O. 9346 of 5/27/43. Although not all the work of the companies involved would be covered by this contractual relationship, he said, it certainly would apply to work at Pasco, Washington, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Mitchell memorandum to Current, 8/15/48, NAACP WB-91, DLC.

See also, among others, 11/1/47.

[4] NAACP’s report to US Labor Dept. re recruiting of farm workers.

[5] See, among others, 4/30, 12/20/48.

[6] In a telephone conference on 8/27/48 with Lester P. Bailey, executive secretary of the Cincinnati NAACP branch, Mitchell discussed plans for a meeting by Mitchell and Walter White with AT&T management possibly on 9/14/48. They also discussed the branch’s plans to picket the telephone company in Cincinnati. Mitchell suggested to Bailey that the picketing, “or some other definite step might make it easier to negotiate with the top officials of AT&T.” Mitchell memorandum to the files, 8/27/48, NAACP WB-5, DLC. Mitchell, accompanied my Madison Jones, administrative assistant of the NAACP, met with Kenneth L. Wilkinson, assistant vice president of AT&T, on 10/13/48 at the company’s New York headquarters in an attempt to get a satisfactory settlement of complaints, additionally in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. “We obtained no commitment from the company on this,” Mitchell recorded. Mitchell memorandum to the files, 10/13/48, NAACP WB-5, DLC. See 11/1/48 report for Mitchell’s subsequent plans for action.

[7] See especially, Mitchell’s 3/24/48 statement to the Civil Service Commission in appendix.

[8] Mitchell’s work to establish nondiscrimination policies at the state and federal levels involved meetings with officials, such as Colonel Fox, executive director of the New York State Commission Against Discrimination on June 15, 1948, when the official informed that SCAD had developed clear procedures for determining whether there had been discrimination in employment. Mitchell memorandum to the files, 6/21/48, MP.

[9] See, in appendix, 3/3/44.

[10] See 12/20/48 for fuller report on this problem.

 

 

December 21, 1949

 

ANNUAL REPORT OF LABOR DEPARTMENT

 

As the shadow of unemployment deepens on the economic scene, the need for fair employment regulations becomes more apparent. Although Congress failed to act on national fair employment practice legislation in 1949, there are four new state FEPC laws and helpful Federal regulations in this field.[i] Significant advances have been made in states and we have been steadily working to make the Federal Fair Employment Board, established by President Truman (under Executive Order 9980) for the protection of government workers, an effective instrument in combating job discrimination.[ii] The states with Fair Employment Laws are Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin. We have found that the Indiana and Wisconsin legislation is virtually worthless because there are no provisions for enforcement.[iii]

The NAACP led the successful drive for a Federal Fair Employment Board and it is fitting that, of the first four bulletins issued by this agency for the guidance of Federal agencies, three of them are based on matters handled by the Association. It is interesting also to note that the decisions on which these bulletins were based involved both southern and border communities. We include a brief note on the content of each case. We also note for the record the basic principles set forth in these bulletins.[iv]

 

Bulletin No. 1

"On Appointment"

 

In a southern city 100 per cent of the white eligibles were appointed by a Federal agency, but only 40 per cent of the colored eligibles were appointed. As a result of the hearing on this case the complainant was hired and given seniority dating from the time of the discrimination. The Board also ruled that:

a.         The fact that each eligible was considered for three separate vacancies before being passed over, as required by rules governing selection from among eligibles, was not accepted as a defense against the complaint of discrimination.

b.         The fact that Negroes as well as whites were appointed was not accepted as proof of non-discrimination.

c.         In order to determine whether there was discrimination, the Board brought into consideration the relative merit and fitness of the eligible certified and the sufficiency of the reasons given for non-selection.

 

Bulletin No. 2

"On Promotion"

 

In a large hospital, a hearing revealed failure of the agency to give full opportunity for qualified colored people to hold professional and supervisory jobs. The complainant, whose work record was excellent, was admitted to a supervisory training course. The hearing board recommended that the hospital make a special effort to see that qualified colored supervisory and professional workers be added to the staff to overcome previous inequities.

 

Bulletin No. 3

"On Assignments"

 

An agency in Washington was charged with discrimination in assignments to colored law enforcement officers. The agency Board held that many of the tasks required in the assignment involved low grade maintenance and cleaning work and that since only colored people were given these jobs the impression of discrimination was inevitable. The Fair Employment Board's comment on the settlement of this case was:

  1. Duty assignment was considered a personnel action within the purview of Executive Order 9980.
  2. Duty assignments were made on an integrated basis with merit and fitness as the controlling factors.
  3. Provision was made for periodic follow-ups to determine whether future personnel actions were based solely on merit and fitness.
  4. The finding of discrimination and the taking of corrective action resulted in no discernible adverse effects.

 

Bulletin No. 4

"On Segregation"

Employees of an agency in a border community complained about segregation in their working arrangements. The agency had declined to promote colored people to supervisory positions except overall colored units. Finally segregation was eliminated and some qualified colored persons were placed in charge of mixed units. In commenting on this the Board said:

"After a lapse of eight months it was found that (a) no new problems had resulted from the actions taken, (b) cordiality of relationship between the groups integrated had improved with the lapse of time, and (c) that the program had considerable educational value in proving that this method of ending segregation had not resulted in chaos as some people had predicted."

 

APPOINTMENT OF ENGINEERS

 

On the constructive side, it should also be recorded that some agencies of Government are carefully working out appeal procedures and hearing arrangements which will enable employees to obtain the maximum of fair treatment. We note with gratification the action of the National Institute of Health, Public Health Service, which employed a young colored engineer from A. & T. College in Greensboro, North Carolina, after informal negotiations carried on by the Association. Two other colored men who are also engineers have since been added to the agency's staff. This represents a major step forward which probably could not have been achieved if there had been no executive order.

 

END SEGREGATION IN CAFETERIA

 

The Government Printing Office in response to urging by the NAACP, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., the Afro American, and Government Printing Office employees has ended segregation in its cafeteria.[v] We believe that some brief excerpts from our negotiations on this matter should appear in the record. They are as follows:

The public printer stated that: "The policies of the cafeteria and Welfare Association, an employee agency, are established by a general board of representative of the employees."

We advised that: "Everyone will agree that employees should enjoy wide latitude in helping to shape policies which effect their general welfare. However, such policies must not be at variance with those announced by Presidents Roosevelt and Truman when Executive Orders 9346 and 9980 were issued."

After segregation was abolished in the eating arrangements, there were no disturbances.

 

CASES PENDING

 

We have important cases involving professional personnel pending in the State Department and the National Bureau of Standards. The Department of State appointed a distinguished board in its case made up of Mr. Harding F. Bancroft, Director of the Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs; Mr. Stanley D. Metzger, Assistant to the Legal Adviser; and Mr. J. Wesley Adams, Jr., Specialist on International Political and Security Affairs.[vi]

In the Bureau of Standards, there has been a disposition to take advantage of technicalities in escaping full compliance with the order. This is also true of the Veterans Administration.

 

TREASURY NEGLIGENCE

 

The Treasury Department is grossly negligent in following the spirit of President Truman's order. The Fair Employment Officer of the Treasury Department is Mr. James H. Hard. A highlight of the negative attitude of this agency comes from Kansas City, Missouri.[vii] The employees were transferred from New York City in June 1947. They had worked on an integrated basis in New York. On arriving in Kansas City, the Treasury representatives set up a strictly segregated working arrangement.

Under this plan, colored employees are confined to one floor of the building while white employees are placed on another. The colored employees are required to eat in a separate dining-room. Applicants for positions are permitted to use unsegregated washrooms. While there are no signs on the washrooms available for employees, the older employees are instructed to advise new individuals that lavatory facilities are segregated and colored people must confine themselves to certain locations.

This has, of course, also resulted in employment patterns which inevitably will make impossible the upgrading of employees and appropriate transfer between jobs except on the basis of quotas and racial designations. We regret that in handling this matter we have encountered the most stubborn opposition from Mr. Hard. The Treasury's first defense was that it established segregation at the request of colored employees. When we presented documentary proof that before segregation was established we had already placed the views of colored employees before the Treasury Department, Treasury officials professed to be unaware of this protest. Instead of seeking a cooperative solution to this problem, Mr. Hard has advised that he has referred the matter to the White House and will not take action until he is instructed to do so.[viii]

 

STATE FEPC PROGRESS

 

In those states where fair employment laws have been in existence for some time, we note that our branches are making an increasing use of the facilities.[ix] Mr. George C. Gordon, President of the New England Regional Conference, worked extensively with the National Office in handling problems of discriminatory recruitment in Pennsylvania by employers from New England States.

On the State FEPC front, great credit must be given to Mr. Hobart LaGrone, President of the Albuquerque, New Mexico, NAACP, and Reverend Jerry Ford, an African Methodist Minister. With the full backing of the National Office, these two men waged a strong and successful campaign in defeating a so-called right -to-work amendment which was aimed at crippling the labor unions in New Mexico. During the Legislative fight for FEPC, they had the warm support of organized labor and, thereby, were able to win in a state where many of the people and some of the customs are very much like the Texas pattern.

NAACP representatives in Washington, Oregon, and Rhode Island also played an important part in getting FEPC legislation passed in those states.[x]

 

ACTION OF MAJOR PARTIES

 

In order to determine how the major parties were keeping their pledges in states where they had an opportunity to vote an FEPC legislation, we made a survey among our branches in eleven states. These were California, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington.

Two states with Republicans Governors passed FEPC laws. Two states with Democratic Governors also passed FEPC bills. In six states Republican controlled legislatures defeated FEPC legislation.[xi]

Republican Governor Luther Youngdahl of Minnesota was the only GOP chief executive who was credited with making an active fight for the bill. After passing the house, it was defeated in the heavily Republican Senate of that state.

Support of Democratic Governor John O. Pastore and a Democratic legislature was credited for success of the measure in Rhode Island where it was passed almost unanimously.

In Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico, the chief executives were listed as "not very sympathetic," although the laws were passed. The Governor of New Mexico is a Democrat while the other two are Republicans.

The Republican Governor of Pennsylvania announced that he would support the measure, but it was killed in committee. Efforts to bring it out of committee were defeated by a vote which followed party lines. In the Senate 35 Republicans voted against 89 Democrats.

The Labor Secretary spent nearly three months working with the people of Pennsylvania in building support for a state FEPC. It was clear from this experience that such legislation had the overwhelming support of the public. This may be the reason why the legislators did not dare let it reach the floor for a vote.

In Ohio a vote in the House showed 62 Democrats in favor of the bill as well as 8 Republicans. Fifty-six Republicans and 4 Democrats were against it. In the Senate, 13 Republicans and 4 Democrats joined in defeating the FEPC by supporting an amendment which emasculated the bill passed by the House. There were 15 Democrats in the Senate who opposed the amendment.

Michigan reported that Governor G. Mennen Williams, a Democrat, strongly supported the FEPC Bill, "but it was killed in committees controlled by upstate Republicans."

Illinois reported strong support for the bill by Governor Adlai Stevenson, Democrat. The measure was passed in the House by a vote of 81 to 43. There were 69 Democrats and 12 Republicans voting for it. No record was given by the state on the party affiliations of those in the House who voted against it. However, in the Illinois Senate the bill was defeated by a vote of 25 to 23. The state report says, "of the 25 votes that defeated the FEPC, 24 were Republican and 1 was Democrat. The Senators who voted for FEPC were 16 Democrats and 7 Republicans."

California reports blamed Republicans for defeating in committee a weak proposal to investigate discrimination in the state.

The Indiana report dealt solely with action by the legislature in 1945. The report said, "The Republicans were in control at the time. This very weak bill (the present law) was what was left after a perfectly good bill modeled on the New York Statute was chopped to pieces by the legislature."  No corrective action was taken in 1949.

 

DO WE NEED A NATIONAL FEPC?

 

In September of 1949, we reported that 8.7 per cent of the non-white labor force in the country was unemployed while only 6.2 per cent of the white labor force was without work. Unemployment among colored males was 9 per cent and among females it was 7.2 per cent. The corresponding figures for whites were 5.5 per cent for males and 6.2 per cent for females.

During that same month, we reported on our efforts to assist unemployed colored officers of the U.S. Merchant Marine. These men have had from 6 to 22 years of sea experience as officers. They have been without jobs from 3 months to 2 years. To date, only one company has given them any fair consideration. They gained their opportunities during wartime because of the FEPC. They will get fair play again when there is peacetime legislation.

In appearing before the House Labor Committee in Washington on FEPC legislation, the Labor Secretary was able to present extensive information on employment discrimination throughout the country.[xii] This was made possible by cooperation from local branches in many states. It was not possible to correlate all of the data we received since those sending it could snatch only a few moments from their busy lives to give what they knew on the basis of first hand experience.

The State of Utah reported that " between one-third and one-half of the state employers freely confess that they are not willing to extend equal pay for equal work or equal rights of seniority to colored people."

We were able to correlate reports on 51 firms in 18 states. These firms employ a total of 114,329 persons. Only 11 of them employ colored people on skilled jobs. Of all the firms reporting, 29 have apprentice training programs but only 5 will admit colored people to such training.

In closing the Association's statement before Congress, the Labor Secretary said,

"The people are no longer deceived by the mere holding of hearings and speech making. They want to see these measures reach the floor for debate and consideration on their merits. They want to be able to pick up the Congressional Record and read what their Congressman has had to say on the floor. They also want to see how he voted and to match that vote against campaign promises."

 

CONSTRUCTION EMPLOYMENT

 

The numerous opportunities for employment in the construction industry have been the object of great attention by the Association's Labor Department. We have worked for the inclusion of non-discrimination clauses in government contracts and effective follow-up by our branches in seeing that the clauses are enforced. We stress the importance of early contacts by local branches with construction companies doing government work, whether that work be on hospitals for the Veterans Administration or public housing made possible by the new housing legislation. Thousands of skilled workmen will be employed on these jobs. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be added to the spending of colored skilled workmen if they are given fair opportunity.

The Consolidated Engineering Company in Baltimore has been given a contract for the construction of a four million dollar hospital in that city. This contractor has assured the Association that a full and fair use will be made of skilled colored workmen.[xiii]

The National Office has concentrated on specific problems that have arisen in Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Maryland. Our plans for the coming year include court action to enforce non-discrimination clauses in contracts. As rapidly as local branches become active in this field, we shall be able to extend the scope of our work.[xiv]

 

LABOR AND WELFARE LEGISLATION

 

For a long time, the Association has worked for increasing the minimum wage, the blanketing in of agricultural workers in broad social and labor legislation, the enactment of sound labor legislation, and the inclusion of domestic workers in the Social Security Law. It is, therefore, gratifying to record that a new minimum wage law was passed in the 81st Congress.[xv] However, the Association cannot feel that this legislation is fully effective because agricultural workers have been left out again.

During the hearings on the bill, the Labor Secretary stressed the importance of adequate protection for children working in agriculture. At the time we had some doubts about the effectiveness of language in the proposed legislation on this point.

We have sought expert advice on the final language which is now law. This advice is as follows:

"The amendment affecting children in agriculture will prohibit children under 16 from working (except on the home farm) during school hours for the school district where they are living while so employed. This amendment should greatly increase the opportunity for rural and migrant children to attend school by keeping them out of employment during school hours. Formerly, employment in agriculture has competed with school for the child's time and as you know employment in agriculture has often been the winner. It will now be illegal for employment in agriculture to win where there is production in interstate commerce."

We intend to report violations of this section to the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. In this manner we will make a real test of whether this part of the law is effective. We call upon branches of the Association to report promptly to the Labor Secretary any evidence of violations.

 

Earnings of Domestics

 

In our appearance before the House Committee on Ways and Means, we documented the plight of colored domestic workers who are not covered by the Social Security Act.[xvi]

At present domestic workers are included in the version of the new social security act passed by the House. The Association will have an important responsibility to see that the Senate does not delete domestic workers from coverage.

The Association's testimony before the House Committee cited figures from two studies of the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Agency which listed the average wage for domestic as approximately $9.00 per week in Baltimore and $14.00 per week in Chicago. Chairman Robert L. Doughton thought that the wages were considerably higher.

We therefore requested new material from the OASI. The latest national average was estimated by the agency as $14.00 per week. When other benefits such as meals, room, etc., were added as part of the wage value, in some cases the figure could be upped to $21.00 a week.

 

Agricultural Workers

 

The Labor Secretary served as an alternate in a meeting of National Advisory Committee of the United States Employment Service in December.[xvii] At that time, we joined with representatives of the AFL and CIO in passing a recommendation that for the coming year no foreign labor be imported for farm work.[xviii]

H. L. Mitchell, President of the National Farm Labor Union, presented extensive information on available unused supplies of agricultural workers. These individuals are colored people, Anglo-Americans, and Mexican-Americans. Many of them are idle because growers are using foreign workers from Mexico and the British West Indies. An excerpt from Mr. Mitchell's report is as follows:

"Under the International Agreement with Mexico the U.S. Employment Service approved certification of 40,392 Mexican nationals for employment in Arkansas and 9,609 were certified for Mississippi. On October 21, 19,362 Mexican workers had been placed on cotton plantations of those states to pick the 1949 crop. According to the Crop Reporting Board of the U. S. Department of Agriculture in its report of September 8, the 1949 crop in these states was indicated to be 1,285,000 bales less than in 1948. The direct effect of the importation of Mexicans was to reduce wages in these states for workers engaged in picking cotton and also to reduce the period of employment by approximately two weeks. The rates given below are in the Farm Labor Report issued by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics November 10, which shows average rates for picking cotton in Arkansas in 1948 were $3.25 per 100 pounds, as compared to rates of $2.65 in 1949. In Mississippi the rates were reported to have been $3.25 in 1948 and reduced to $2.10 in 1949. A cotton picker will average 200 pounds per day, therefore the reduction in earnings were $1.30 per day in Arkansas and $2.30 in Mississippi."

We have urged that President Truman appoint a committee to make a report on current conditions among agricultural workers. We hope that this report will be effective in prodding Congress to give proper legislative protection to workers on the farms. One of the most pressing needs is the inclusion of farm workers under a revised National Labor Relations Act. This would give their representatives a real chance to work for better conditions and better pay on the job.

For the Association, the Labor Secretary was able to present information to the Advisory Committee on specific instances in which a wise use of our own citizens would have made unnecessary the use of foreign workers. We have been careful at all times to make it clear that we believe all nationalities have a right to work in the United States as long as they are not being used to depress wages and create unemployment among our own citizens.

 

Taft-Hartley Act

 

As early as 1946, the Association foresaw the hazard of unfair labor legislation and its Conference went on record against the passage of such laws. We opposed the Taft-Hartley Act and developments under this legislation show the need for replacing it with a fairer law.[xix]

During hearings in the 81st Congress, we urged that the Taft-Hartley Act be repealed and that any new legislation include clear language forbidding racial discrimination in unions. We pointed out that the Taft-Hartley Act has legalized segregation and other Jim Crow practices in trade unions.[xx]

The Labor Department has kept a careful record of developments under the Taft-Hartley Act. The following are some of the most dramatic:

a.         In four cases, the National Labor Relations Board has approved unions which place colored members in Jim-Crow locals.[xxi] The Board was following the stated intent of Congress when the Taft-Hartley Act was passed. This has been a severe blow to colored people and to the overwhelming majority of unions that oppose racial discrimination.

b.         In two instances, the Board and its trial examiners have declared certain hiring halls illegal. The first decision was against the National Maritime Union, CIO, and the second was against the International Longshoremens and Warehousemens Union, CIO. Both of these unions have large colored membership. The NMU has an outstanding record of combatting racial discrimination and the hiring hall has helped to make the non-discrimination policies work. A large local of the International Longshoremens Association, AFL, with predominately colored  membership faces complete disruption if these decisions are applied to it.[xxii]

c.         Even the General Counsel of NLRB has found provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act which require union shop elections unworkable in the Construction Industry. Chairman Paul Herzog of NLRB has advised that he has placed the Association's views on this matter before the Board.[xxiii] We informed the Board that benefits of any revision of its rules in this field should deny such changes to contractors and labor unions that discriminate because of race.[xxiv]

d.         One of the first unions to be attacked by an employer on the requirement of the law that officers file non-communist affidavits was a local of the cafeteria workers. About 90 per cent of the members and the officers are colored. Subsequent developments showed that the employer was using this strategy to break a strike staged by the union for better wages.

 

LOYALTY INVESTIGATIONS

 

Frequently, we are asked is the present loyalty program the best method for turning up spies and enemies of the Government?  The cases which have come to the attention of the Association would force a negative answer to the question.[xxv]

So far, those who have sought our help seem to have been doing a pretty good job of defending the country, instead of tearing it down. They include a heavily decorated Sergeant who was wounded eight times during the Battle of the Bulge, and a young veteran who was notified that he was considered disloyal on Christmas Eve. The latter's wife was about to have a baby at the time.

The Association has four active cases on which no decisions have been given. In three others, the persons charged have been cleared. As we feared at the outset, the record shows that in many instances those persons who have been active in pressing for full civil rights for minority groups have been singled out for attack under this program.

The NAACP's Labor and Legal Departments are handling the cases accepted by the organization.[xxvi] The Association will handle loyalty cases where it appears that the charge is based in whole or in part on one of the following:

  1. Race or color of the person or persons involved.

b.   Membership or activity in the NAACP.

c.       Membership or activity in any coordinating group approved by the National Office of the NAACP.[xxvii]

 

SPECIAL SERVICES

 

Other matters of special interest handled by the Labor Secretary during the year are as follows:

 

Food and Agriculture Organization

As a representative of the Association, the Labor Secretary was present at the Food and Agriculture Organization Conference of the United Nations in November. The sessions were held at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington. The principal purpose for being present at the meetings was to oppose location of the FAO at the University of Maryland on a permanent basis. President H. C. Byrd of the University assured the delegated that there would be no discrimination because of race. However, we were able to place before individual delegates of the various nations the record of the University and its policy of excluding colored persons from the main campus at College Park, Maryland. With the cooperation of various conference officials, we were able to get a communication from the Acting Secretary officially before the body. This resulted in several strong speeches against the University of Maryland and any site in an area where segregation would be practiced. By a vote of 30 to 28, the FAO Conference decided to establish its permanent headquarters in Rome, Italy.[xxviii]

 

Air Forces

 

At the request of the Fort Worth, Texas, branch, we have asked the Air Forces to discipline severely two Air Force Military Policemen who brutally beat colored enlisted men.[xxix] The complainants charge the following:

a.         Corporal Wellington C. Valentine was needlessly arrested without cause by Air             Policemen Gentry and Phillips, in company of two civilian policemen. In making     the arrest, the Air Policemen used vile racial epithets in addressing Corporal Valentine.

b.                  Corporal Valentine and another colored soldier named Scott were beaten by the

Military Police both on route to Air Force Police station and also while they were          in custody.

c.         The Air Force Policemen, apparently, willfully precipitated a fight between         Corporal Valentine and an Indian, dressed in civilian clothes. The Indian was          shoved into Corporal Valentine's cell and the door was locked by the Air          Policemen.

d.         Corporal Valentine was forced to perform humiliating custodial duties in the jail cell by Air Force personnel.

e.         A desk Sergeant of the Air Forces slapped Corporal Valentine for 20 minutes in            what was called a "working over for being a smart Nigger."  Another desk             Sergeant at the Provost Marshall's Office said to Corporal Valentine, "You people          have got to learn to stay in your place."

f.          Local officials of the Air Forces have done nothing about this incident.

 

The Physically Handicapped

 

The Labor Secretary has been serving on the President's Committee to Employ the Physically Handicapped. This year, Congress gave the Committee a small appropriation for employing a staff. We have suggested to Admiral Ross McIntire, the Chairman, that qualified colored people should be on the staff. Disabled veterans with special ability were offered as a source from which such workers could be drawn.

 

SPEECHES, ARTICLES, AND MILEAGE

 

The Labor Secretary traveled a total of 14,740 miles for the Association during 1949. These trips included visits to state and regional conferences of the NAACP, labor conferences, and special trips for the purpose of promoting state FEPC campaigns.

The Labor Secretary wrote a special Labor Day article for the Midwest Labor Dige


 


MS: NAACP WB-163, DLC.

[i] The new states with FEPC were Washington, Oregon, Rhode Island, and New Mexico. See “Proposed Labor Resolutions for the 40th Annual Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,” 6/8/49, NAACP II: A-38, DLC. Excerpts of this resolution were used at 9/30/49.

[ii] See, most recently, 5/31, and 10/31/49.

[iii] A high point in this struggle was the adoption by the 40th Annual Conference of the NAACP of a resolution making passage of FEPC legislation the number one objective of the organization’s program in Congress. NAACP II: A38, DLC. See also, most immediately, 3/4, 4/1, 5/31, 9/30/49 for activities involving state FEPCs.

[iv] See 10/31/49 for initial report of the Fair Employment Board.

[v] See 9/30/49.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] This problem, in addition to that at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, reinforced the endemic bias that the Treasury Department demonstrated existed throughout federal agencies. At the time of this report, Mitchell was also watching carefully the struggle under E.O. 9980 by nine black appellants to reverse the cancellation of an examination by the bureau for qualified plate printers. See 3/3/50, where information from a 2/24/50 Civil Service Commission press release and material from the findings of facts are used.

[viii] See most recently, 9/30/49.

 

[ix] Beginning with New York’s enactment of the Ives-Quinn bill on March 12, 1945, making it the first state to have an FEPC law, eight states by 1951 had such provisions barring discrimination in employment. The other states were New Jersey (1945), Massachusetts (1946), Connecticut (1947), New Mexico (1949), Oregon (1949), Rhode Island (1949), and Washington (1949). Indiana and Wisconsin (both 1945) passed laws without means of enforcement. For that information and further discussion of the struggle over state FEPC laws, see Ruchames, Race, Jobs and Politics, 165-80. The effort to pass a state FEPC law in Pennsylvania was killed. See 5/2/49.

[x] For progressive reports during the year, see 1/31, 3/4, 4/1, 5/2, 5/31, and 9/30/49, and headnote on the Struggles for State and Federal FEPCs.

[xi] This, evidently, is an updated version of the survey mention at 9/30/49.

[xii] See Mitchell’s testimony on FEP Act, 5/19/49, Hearings, 293-300; and 5/31/49.

[xiii] See also 11/30/49.

[xiv] See also 9/30, 11/30/49.

[xv] Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act on 1/18/49, ending a three-year effort to raise the minimum wage. NYT, 10/19/49, 5. For Mitchell’s testimony on S. 653, see 4/12/49, Hearings, 225-33. Among earlier reports, see 5/2/49, where Mitchell’s testimonies before Congress on 4/12, and 4/21/49 are cited.

[xvi] See 4/21/49, Hearings, 2148-44; and, among others, 5/2/49, 5/31, 12/21/50.

[xvii] See, among others, 12/20/48, 5/31/51.

[xviii] See, among others, 1/31/49; and 4/12/49, Hearings, 225-33; 4/21/49, Hearings, 2144-48.

[xix] The NAACP 40th Annual Conference in 6/49 adopted a resolution reaffirming this opposition, noting that the “authors of the Taft-Hartley law have themselves admitted there is need for revision of this legislation.” The resolution said the NAACP was “shocked and disgusted with the shortsighted, narrow-minded handling of the Thomas and Lesinski Bills by the House and Senate.  NAACP II: A-38, DLC.

[xx] See also 3/4, 5/2, 11/30/49; in appendix, 10/31/48; and 3/15/49, Hearings, 799-818.

The extent to which Taft-Hartley was a hot-button political issue was demonstrated by Mitchell’s being on the same side as the rigidly segregated Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen in opposing what A.F. Whitney, president of the union, called “so-called Taft amendments” to the act that he felt were “worse than the corresponding provisions of the original Taft-Hartley Act.” NYT, 7/4/49, 1; see also NYT, 7/10/49, E7, for other political aspects of the struggle, and headnote on the NAACP and the Taft-Hartley Act.

[xxi] See 3/4/49, n.2.

[xxii] The background to this activity was as follows. In the late 1930s, Maritime Unions won agreements under which employers would hire only workers who had been referred by their hiring hall. The purpose of this union-run employment bureau was to protect sea men against dishonest private employment agencies. The unions, though, referred only union members for employment, and that practice represented a form of closed shop.

The 1947 Taft-Hartley Act forbade the closed shop and hiring halls that referred only union members for jobs. But it did not forbid hiring halls that did not forbid union halls that did not discriminate in job referrals against non-union members. Early in 1950, the Supreme Curt declined to overturn a lower court ruling on an NLRB decision, thus upholding the Taft-Hartley prohibition against closed shop hiring halls that discriminated against non-union members.

Because of the NLRB and court decisions, the CIO’s National Maritime Union and International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union sought am amendment to the Taft-Hartley Act. The unions wanted permission to restore hiring halls that referred only union members. All the seamen’s  unions and a few companies favored restoration of the old type of hiring hall, but the Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. and other like-minded groups opposed the effort.

Senator Taft and others said restoration of the pre-1947 hiring hall would be tantamount to restoring the closed shop in the maritime industry, and in 1950 he would oppose a bill to accomplish that goal. The Senate bill did not pass, but the Maritime Union continued to operate its hiring hall under the Taft-Hartley law requirement that it not discriminate against non-union persons in its job referrals. Congress and the Nation, 588.

[xxiii] Letter from Paul M. Herzog to Mitchell, 12/1/49, responding to Mitchell’s letter of 11/19/49. Mitchell wrote Herzog regarding the requests from the Associated Contractors of America and the AFL Building and Construction Trades Department for exemption from certain features of the Taft-Hartley Law. The requests, Mitchell said, appeared reasonable in that it did not seem that the nature of the industry made it very difficult for employers and union representatives alike to comply with the law. If the Board granted the requests, Mitchell said, the NAACP was asking that “due consideration be given to the existence of numerous discriminatory practices in the construction industry.” Mitchell strongly urged that any permission that the Board gave “also include a specific requirement that any union or contractor discriminating against qualified building tradesmen solely because of their race shall forfeit coverage by the government.” Those who used “racial standards for measuring a man’s fitness to perform a job rather than ability would be subject to the requirements from which the non-discriminatory unions and employers would be exempted.” NAACP IX: 214, DLC.

Mitchell’s concerns reflected criticisms that had been expressed over the NLRB’s bifurcated powers and authority that had been accorded it through revisions under the Taft-Hartley Act. Lee, Truman and Taft-Hartley, 184-86. See also, “NLRB Reorganization Killed,” Congress and the Nation, 589-90.

[xxiv] See Mitchell’s letter to Paul M. Herzog, chairman, NLRB, 11/29/49, NAACP WB-183, DLC.; and 11/30/49.

[xxv] See also, most recently, 11/1, 12/20/48, 9/30/49; and headnote on Loyalty Investigations.

[xxvi] The NAACP Annual Conference on 7/16/49, adopted a resolution on the President’s loyalty order that deplored the “national hysteria and fear” it had created, which it said, was a greater danger to the strength and integrity of the nation. The conference opposed “wholeheartedly” the loyalty program, as well as: “the Mundt-Ferguson bills and their counterparts in the states such as Ober bill in Maryland” and urged the president “to revoke the loyalty order forthwith.” The conference further pledged the “full resources of the Association to aid and assist in every way in challenging the constitutionality of this order in the courts and to continue giving assistance to individuals affected.” Resolutions Adopted by the 40th Annual Conference of the N.A.A.C.P., NAACP II: A-38, DLC.

[xxvii] These two paragraphs and the accompanying three lettered bases for the NAACP’s acceptance of cases were taken from a 10/4/49 statement that Mitchell prepared for the Civil Rights Clearing House. In that statement, Mitchell cited cases from his 5/28, 9/30, 11/1, and 12/20/48 reports. Mitchell’s 10/4/49 statement and his cover memorandum to Roy Wilkins explaining its purpose are in NAACP II: A-363, DLC.

[xxviii] See also 11/30/49.

[xxix] These complaints were part of a much broader pattern of violence against African American servicemen in uniform that the NAACP was seeking to end.

 

 

 



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"I suggest that Ten Thousand Negroes march on Washington, D.C. with the slogan ..." A. Philip Randolph, Father of the modern civil rights movement

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    Randolph with Eleanor Roosevelt

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